Do your patients change their appointments?
Or are you doing everything you need to do to prevent patients from changing their appointments?
I always ask dental teams this one question.
“Do you enjoy moving patients around in your appointment book?”.
No one ever answers, “Yes I love it!”
Now when I talk about changing appointments, I mean any appointment that is moved either by rescheduling or cancelling.
Keep in mind that a cancelled appointment and a rescheduled appointment have the same effect as each other on your appointment book. You have removed the appointment from the original time that was reserved for your patient.
OK now I need to ask you this.
Do you call your patients to move their appointments?
Please be warned!
When you call patients to change their appointment you start to give patients the message that it is alright for them to also change their appointments when they feel like it.
Indirectly you are now giving your patients permission to move their appointments around.
You are playing with the commitment they made to their original appointment and time.
Think about it.
Do you like it when patients call to change their appointments?
I know you don’t.
Try and avoid doing it to them.
Once your patients are more committed to their appointment and the time, then you will find this problem happening less and less.
Keep in mind that most patients hate it when you call to change their appointment time, just like you hate it when they call you.
But I know there are times when you need to make a few changes in your appointment book because a patient has called to cancel or reschedule their appointment for a valid reason.
The best way to call a patient to move their appointment is to ONLY call those patients who have given you permission to call them and change their appointment time.
The easiest way to ask a patient for permission to move their appointment is right at the time when you are making their appointment.
“I have now confirmed your appointment for Tuesday 20th October at 11am. How about I give you a call if an appointment becomes available sooner. How does that sound?”
You have now asked the patient permission and they will be on your standby to call if an appointment becomes available.
The suggestion of what is in the best interest of your patient is often enough for the patient to say yes and agree to.
You never want to say:
“I have made your appointment for Tuesday 20th October at 11am. Would you like me to give you a call if we get a cancellation?”
This gives your patient the message that other patients cancel their appointments.
You now have a healthy list of patients who have given you permission to call them to change their appointment time to an earlier time, sometimes this is the appointment time that they wanted but couldn’t quite get when they initially made the appointment.
Now this is a win, win for you and your patient.
When you call your patient remind them that they gave you permission to call them if an earlier appointment became available.
“Hi John, it’s Jayne from Active Dental, you said I can call you if an earlier appointment becomes available and it has.”
Again, you want to do everything you can to confirm the patients appointment at the time of making it so they are more committed to keeping their appointment at the time you reserve for them.
Also keep an eye on your appointment book and block of dates like public holidays and continued education for your dentists and team. This is very disruptive to have to call patients who are booked in when you are not available to see them.
Something else is also happening when you move patient’s appointments around, you are spending a lot of valuable time doing this.
The last thing you want to be doing is spending your day having to call patients to move appointments.
This is never best practice.
So start looking at how to avoid moving appointments around.
Set up appointments so your patients have the mindset that their appointment is confirmed, their appointment time is reserved for them and their appointment has a high priority over anything else that may come up.
It is amazing how your patients will respond when you are confident about them keeping their appointment.
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